Bargain-hunting shoppers on Cyber Monday broke consumption records, making the online shopping bonanza the biggest e-commerce day in history, according to data from IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark.
Online sales surged 20.6% compared with the same day last year, with Los Angeles rounding out a list of most active e-shopping cities that included New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Atlanta, according to IBM.
Cyber Monday capped the highest five-day online consumption period in the books, as sales boomed 16.5% over the same stretch last year. That's even though the average order on Cyber Monday sank 1% to $128.77 from a year earlier, dropping below the $135.27 per-transaction average on Black Friday last week.
Still, overall Cyber Monday sales blew Black Friday away, with 31.5% more revenue, according to IBM.
Separately, data firm ComScore said it anticipated $1.8 billion in e-commerce spending via desktops on Cyber Monday, with an additional $200 million coming from mobile sales.
Deal site Groupon said Black Friday and Cyber Monday were its two most successful days ever in North America. Top sellers included toys -- 47,000 Royal Loom Bands kits were sold -- as well as home goods, including 15,000 Keurig Vue V500 Brewing Systems.
But as a whole, retailers' performance over the holiday weekend was unimpressive.
Research firm ShopperTrak said sales in brick-and-mortar outlets over the four-day period were up 1% to $22.2 billion as foot traffic sank 4% to 1.8 billion visits.
Although visits to apparel stores saw a 9.4% upswing year over year, electronics retailers suffered a 6.5% drop, according to ShopperTrak. Many consumers went online to research products before heading into stores with clear goals.
"Mixed shopping reports suggesting just moderate spending" helped push the Dow down 78 points on Monday, its worst day since Nov. 7, according to a note to clients from Sterne Agee chief economist Lindsey Piegza.
In hopes of attracting more shoppers over more days, many chains spread out their bargains and promotions from Thursday through Cyber Monday, if not longer.
"Retailers stretched Black Friday deals and promotions across November -- removing the focus from just one big day of shopping," said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin. "Shoppers, in turn, paced themselves."
Cyber Monday had the least amount of inventory marked down, according to retail forecaster WGSN, which found that retailers such as Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, J.C. Penney and Kohl's discounted 53% of their merchandise on Monday, compared with 56% on Thanksgiving and 57% on Black Friday.
Jefferies analyst Brian Pitz pointed to other concerns: the fact that the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the shortest it's been in more than a decade along with "recent weakness in discretionary spending."
The International Council of Shopping Centers conceded that sales were soft but said that sales early in the holiday season are "no bellwether of the season as a whole."
"Consumers have completed an average 37.3% of their holiday gift buying, which means there is still a lot to do over the upcoming weeks," Michael Niemira, chief economist of the trade group, said in a statement.